“In Memory of 16-year-old Me”

The following post was written by Sarah Woodmansee, SYF’s Administrative Assistant on the Advancement team.

I have been with Simon Youth Foundation for 3 ½ years now serving as the Administrative Assistant to the Advancement team. My job includes assisting in fundraising efforts, coordinating events and most importantly entering all the gifts that come into the Foundation from donors like you.

I think having the responsibility of entering all donations is a special role, because I am consistently reminded of individuals’ generosity. Then there are times I receive a gift that truly catches my attention and warms my heart in a special way.

At the beginning of July, I was notified of an online donation. I logged into our system to retrieve the gift and process the money. Our system allows donors to write comments about their gift, but most people skip over that section. However, as I was reviewing this transaction, I discovered a couple special notes.

“When I was 16, I made the mistake of shoplifting. Thank God I got caught! Roosevelt Field Mall was where we used to steal (don’t worry, it wasn’t much!). I’m in a program that helps me heal my finances & part of that is making amends. Thank you.”

This individual also noted the gift was in honor of “all kids who need it,” and noted it was in memory of the “16-year-old me who didn’t know better.”

As I thought about this note, I couldn’t help but think of 16-year-old ME, who didn’t know any better. I don’t think I ever stole anything, but I made my fair share of questionable choices. There were the times – yes, multiple times – I took my parent’s car before I had my driver’s license. I eventually got caught, because I continually forgot to change the radio station back to the station my mom listened to regularly.

All of us have a 16-year-old me who didn’t know any better. That’s what’s great about SYF. Through this organization, we have an opportunity to reach kids right at that moment in their lives when they could easily become either a dropout statistic or a success story.

Apparently, that opportunity resonated with this donor, who so kindly gave online as part of the healing process. I have processed two similar gifts in the last 3 ½ years. Each gift made me smile and realize doing what we do can play a positive role in so many different lives.

In these particular situations, not only did I feel SYF helped another student at one of our academies, but we provided an outlet for an individual to make amends with their past. It made me feel good to be able to be a part of something that helped a couple people in need.

I hope you feel the same each time you think about the work done at SYF.

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